When people experience trauma, their brains and bodies are put into a state of disconnection from self and others. This is the body and mind’s way of preserving our integrity in the face of overwhelming and terrifying experiences and emotions that would otherwise be too much to bear.
The long-term effects of these disconnection experiences, which are also known as a lack of attachment and the experience of childhood trauma, can have a huge impact on our mental health. This is why more and more clinicians are beginning to use a new diagnosis called developmental trauma disorders, which describes the unique impacts of childhood trauma on an individual’s life, even if they don’t meet the criteria for PTSD or cPTSD.
Healing from Developmental Trauma: Strategies for Recovery
DTD is different to PTSD in that it covers more than just the symptoms of experiencing extreme stress, such as habitual self-harm or extreme distrust towards others; it explains the impacts of disconnection and trauma on our ability to form relationships. It is a more comprehensive and holistic diagnosis that accounts for the impact of prolonged exposure to multiple forms of adversity, including emotional abuse, neglect, and witnessing family or community violence.
Many of the clients we work with have a history of complex trauma, which may be described as intergenerational or cultural trauma. We aim to help them develop a sense of safety, predictability, and connection within their relationship with us. This is a key element of our therapeutic approach, which involves the therapist functioning as a co-regulator with our clients and building their capacity to do this themselves through an attunement-misattunement model.